On Sunday, the Los Angeles Times reported the City of Angeles has experienced the worst air pollution in decades in spite of coronavirus lockdowns. The Times noted:
“In all, this year there were 157 bad air days for ozone pollution — the invisible, lung-searing gas in smog — across the vast, coast-to-mountains basin spanning Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. That’s the most days above the federal health standard since 1997.”
Strangely enough, the news outlet noted that the increased smog was the result of the lockdowns citing non-traffic emissions such as unstable organic compounds in disinfectant, and oddities in atmospheric chemistry. Again trom the L.A. Times:
“It is also possible that the response to the pandemic altered the mix of pollutants that generate ozone, which is not emitted directly, but forms when tailpipe emissions and other pollutants react in the heat and sunlight.
Reducing ozone requires carefully balanced cuts in two main smog-forming pollutants — combustion gases called nitrogen oxides and chemical vapors and solvents called volatile organic compounds — and regulators have long known that cutting them in the wrong proportion could bring no ozone reductions at all or even increase smog levels.”
While COVID-19 lockdowns gave a temporary example as to what happens when automobiles no longer release emissions, around the middle of 2020 scientists had observed increased pollution in a few cities but small reductions in others. Environmentalists who cheered the beginning rehabilitation of nature resulting from the virus restrictions, have had their glee shot down not only by shifts in human action but natural ecological variability.
PHOTO CREDIT: A view of Los Angeles in smog. By Original uploader was en:User:DowntowngalUploaded by Downtowngal at en.wikipedia – Own workTransferred from en.wikipedia by SreeBot, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18007801